Effects of a multi-strain probiotic on growth, health, and fecal bacterial flora of neonatal dairy calves

  • Guo, Yongqing (Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agricultural Science and Technology in Lingnan, South China Agricultural University) ;
  • Li, Zheng (Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agricultural Science and Technology in Lingnan, South China Agricultural University) ;
  • Deng, Ming (Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agricultural Science and Technology in Lingnan, South China Agricultural University) ;
  • Li, Yaokun (Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agricultural Science and Technology in Lingnan, South China Agricultural University) ;
  • Liu, Guangbin (Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agricultural Science and Technology in Lingnan, South China Agricultural University) ;
  • Liu, Dewu (Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agricultural Science and Technology in Lingnan, South China Agricultural University) ;
  • Liu, Qihong (Jiangsu Hengfengqiang Biotechnology Co., Ltd) ;
  • Liu, Qingshen (Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agricultural Science and Technology in Lingnan, South China Agricultural University) ;
  • Sun, Baoli (Guangdong Laboratory of Modern Agricultural Science and Technology in Lingnan, South China Agricultural University)
  • Received : 2021.02.22
  • Accepted : 2021.07.04
  • Published : 2022.02.01


Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of dietary supplementation with a multi-strain probiotic (MSP) product containing of Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactobacillus casei, Streptococcus faecalis, and Bacillus cerevisiae on growth, health, and fecal bacterial composition of dairy calves during the first month of life. Methods: Forty Holstein calves (24 female and 16 male) at 2 d of age were grouped by sex and date of birth then randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatments: milk replacer supplementation with 0 g (0MSP), 2 g (2MSP), 4 g (4MSP), and 6 g (6MSP) MSP per calf per day. Results: Supplementation of MSP did not result in any significant differences in parameters of body measurements of calves during the 30 d period. As the dosage of MSP increased, the average daily gain (p = 0.025) and total dry matter intake (p = 0.020) of calves showed a linear increase. The fecal consistency index of the 2MSP, 4MSP, and 6MSP group calves were lower than that of the 0MSP group calves (p = 0.003). As the dosage of MSP increased, the concentrations of lactate dehydrogenase (p = 0.068) and aspartate aminotransferase (p = 0.081) in serum tended to decrease, whereas the concentration of total cholesterol increased quadratically (p = 0.021). The relative abundance of Dorea in feces was lower (p = 0.011) in the 2MSP, 4MSP, and 6MSP group calves than that in the 0MSP group calves. The relative abundance of Dorea (p = 0.001), Faecalibacterium (p = 0.050), and Mitsuokella (p = 0.030) decreased linearly, whereas the relative abundance of Prevotella tended to increase linearly as the dosage of MSP increased (p = 0.058). Conclusion: The MSP product can be used to reduce the diarrhea, improve the performance, and alter the composition of the fecal bacteria in neonatal dairy calves under the commercial conditions.



We also thank Zhaoqing Wens dairy farm (Zhaoqing, Guangdong, China) for use of their animals and facilities.


  1. Lyoo K, Jung M, Yoon S, Kim HK, Jeong DG. Identification of canine norovirus in dogs in South Korea. BMC Vet Res 2018;14:413.
  2. Lorenz I, Mee JF, Earley B, More SJ. Calf health from birth to weaning. I. General aspects of disease prevention. Ir Vet J 2011;64:10.
  3. Kelsey AJ, Colpoys JD. Effects of dietary probiotics on beef cattle performance and stress. J Vet Behav 2018;27:8-14.
  4. Malmuthuge N, Griebel PJ, Guan LL. The gut microbiome and its potential role in the development and function of newborn calf gastrointestinal tract. Front Vet Sci 2015;2:36.
  5. Wang Y, Gong L, Wu YP, Cui ZW, Li WF. Oral administration of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG to newborn piglets augments gut barrier function in pre-weaning piglets. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B 2019;20:180-92.
  6. Frizzo LS, Zbrun MV, Soto LP, Signorini ML. Effects of probiotics on growth performance in young calves: A metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials. Anim Feed Sci Technol 2011;169:147-56.
  7. Saleem AM, Zanouny AI, Singer AM. Growth performance, nutrients digestibility, and blood metabolites of lambs fed diets supplemented with probiotics during pre- and post-weaning period. Asian-Australas J Anim Sci 2017;30:523-30.
  8. Seo JK, Kim S, Kim MH, Upadhaya SD, Kam DK, Ha JK. Direct-fed microbials for ruminant animals. Asian-Australas J Anim Sci 2010;23:1657-67.
  9. Santillo A, Annicchiarico G, Caroprese M, Marino R, Sevi A, Albenzio M. Probiotics in milk replacer influence lamb immune function and meat quality. Animal 2012;6:339-45.
  10. Do Carmo MS, Itapary Dos Santos C, Araujo MC, Giron JA, Fernandes ES, Monteiro-Neto V. Probiotics, mechanisms of action, and clinical perspectives for diarrhea management in children. Food Funct 2018;9:5074-95.
  11. Frizzo LS, Soto LP, Zbrun MV, et al. Lactic acid bacteria to improve growth performance in young calves fed milk replacer and spray-dried whey powder. Anim Feed Sci Technol 2010;157:159-67.
  12. Taras D, Vahjen W, Simon O. Probiotics in pigs-modulation of their intestinal distribution and of their impact on health and performance. Livest Sci 2007;108:229-31.
  13. Lutful Kabir SM. The role of probiotics in the poultry industry. Int J Mol Sci 2009;10:3531-46.
  14. Alawneh JI, Barreto MO, Moore RJ, et al. Systematic review of an intervention: the use of probiotics to improve health and productivity of calves. Prev Vet Med 2020;183:105147.
  15. AOAC. Official methods of analysiss. 15th ed. Washington, DC, USA: Association of Official Analytical Chemists; 1990.
  16. Khan MA, Lee HJ, Lee WS, et al. Starch source evaluation in calf starter: I. feed consumption, body weight gain, structural growth, and blood metabolites in holstein calves. J Dairy Sci 2007;90:5259-68.
  17. Marcondes MI, Pereira TR, Chagas JCC, et al. Performance and health of Holstein calves fed different levels of milk fortified with symbiotic complex containing pre -and probiotics. Trop Anim Health Prod 2016;48:1555-60.
  18. Sun YY, Li J, Meng QS, Wu DL, Xu M. Effects of butyric acid supplementation of acidified milk on digestive function and weaning stress of cattle calves. Livest Sci 2019;225:78-84.
  19. Marchesi JR, Adams DH, Fava F, et al. The gut microbiota and host health: a new clinical frontier. Gut 2016;65:330-9.
  20. Sato T, Hidaka Y, Kamimura S. Sugar supplementation stimulates growth performance in calves with growth retardation. J Vet Med Sci 2010;72:29-33.
  21. Cangiano LR, Yohe TT, Steele MA, Renaud DL. Invited Review: Strategic use of microbial-based probiotics and prebiotics in dairy calf rearing. Appl Anim Sci 2020;36:630-51.
  22. Zhang L, Jiang X, Liu X, et al. Growth, health, rumen fermentation, and bacterial community of Holstein calves fed Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG during the preweaning stage. J Anim Sci 2019;97:2598-608.
  23. Timmerman HM, Mulder L, Everts H, et al. Health and growth of veal calves fed milk replacers with or without probiotics. J Dairy Sci 2005;88:2154-65.
  24. Bendali F, Sanaa M, Bichet H, Schelcher F. Risk factors associated with diarrhoea in newborn calves. Vet Res 1999;30:509-22.
  25. Chenoll E, Casinos B, Bataller E, et al. Novel probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum CECT 7366 strain active against the pathogenic bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Appl Environ Microbiol 2011;77:1335-43.
  26. Uyeno Y, Shigemori S, Shimosato T. Effect of probiotics/prebiotics on cattle health and productivity. Microbes Environ 2015;30:126-32.
  27. Casper DP, Hultquist KM, Acharya IP. Lactobacillus plantarum GB LP-1 as a direct-fed microbial for neonatal calves. J Dairy Sci 2021;104:5557-68.
  28. Jiang Z, Wei S, Wang Z, et al. Effects of different forms of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae on growth performance, intestinal development, and systemic immunity in early-weaned piglets. J Anim Sci Biotechnol 2015;6:47.
  29. Jiao LF, Ke YL, Xiao K, Song ZH, Hu CH, Shi B. Effects of cello-oligosaccharide on intestinal microbiota and epithelial barrier function of weanling pigs. J Anim Sci 2015;93:1157-64.
  30. Gu XL, Li H, Song ZH, Ding YN, He X, Fan ZY. Effects of isomaltooligosaccharide and Bacillus supplementation on sow performance, serum metabolites, and serum and placental oxidative status. Anim Reprod Sci 2019;207:52-60.
  31. Lykkesfeldt J, Svendsen O. Oxidants and antioxidants in disease: oxidative stress in farm animals. Vet J 2007;173:502-11.
  32. Shanks OC, Kelty CA, Archibeque S, et al. Community structures of fecal bacteria in cattle from different animal feeding operations. Appl Environ Microb 2011;77:2992-3001.
  33. Buzoianu SG, Walsh MC, Rea MC, et al. High-throughput sequence-based analysis of the intestinal microbiota of weanling pigs fed genetically modified MON810 maize expressing Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab (Bt maize) for 31 days. Appl Environ Microb 2012;78:4217-24.
  34. Ji Y, Kong X, Li H, Zhu Q, Guo Q, Yin Y. Effects of dietary nutrient levels on microbial community composition and diversity in the ileal contents of pregnant Huanjiang minipigs. Plos One 2017;12:e0172086.
  35. Niu Q, Li P, Hao S, et al. Dynamic distribution of the gut microbiota and the relationship with apparent crude fiber digestibility and growth stages in pigs. Sci Rep-Uk 2015;5:9938.
  36. Ma ZZ, Cheng YY, Wang SQ, Ge JZ, Shi HP, Kou JC. Positive effects of dietary supplementation of three probiotics on milk yield, milk composition and intestinal flora in Sannan dairy goats varied in kind of probiotics. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr 2020;104:44-55.
  37. Zhang J, Xu C, Huo D, Hu Q, Peng Q. Comparative study of the gut microbiome potentially related to milk protein in Murrah buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) and Chinese Holstein cattle. Sci Rep-Uk 2017;7:42189.
  38. Xu H, Huang W, Hou Q, et al. The effects of probiotics administration on the milk production, milk components and fecal bacteria microbiota of dairy cows. Sci Bull (Beijing) 2017;62:767-74.
  39. Gomez DE, Arroyo LG, Costa MC, Viel L, Weese JS. Characterization of the fecal bacterial microbiota of healthy and diarrheic dairy calves. J Vet Intern Med 2017;31:928-39.
  40. Foditsch C, Santos TM, Teixeira AG, et al. Isolation and characterization of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii from calves and piglets. Plos One 2014;9:e116465.